Ispahbadh of Tabaristan
Reign 817–839
Predecessor Qarin ibn Vindadhhurmuzd
Successor Qarin I
Born Tabaristan
Died 839
Dynasty Qarinvand dynasty
Father Qarin ibn Vindadhhurmuzd
Religion Zoroastrianism

Mazyar (Middle Persian: Māh-Izād; Persian: مازیار Mazyār), was an Iranian prince from the Qarinvand dynasty and feudal ruler of the mountainous region of Tabaristan. For his resistance to the Abbasid Caliphate, Mazyar is considered one of the national heroes of Iran by twentieth-century Iranian nationalist historiography. His name means "protected by the yazata of the moon".

Rise to power

Map of northern Iran

Mazyar succeeded his father Qarin ibn Vindadhhurmuzd in ca. 817. However, his territories were soon invaded by the neighbouring Bavandid ruler Shahriyar I, who defeated Mazyar and forced him to flee. Mazyar took refuge with his cousin Vinda-Umid, who betrayed him and handed him over to Shahriyar. However, Mazyar managed to escape and reach the court of the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun. There he met one of his astrologers, Yahya ibn al-Munajjim, a Persian who had recently converted to Islam and belonged to the Banu Munajjim family. Mazyar soon also embraced Islam, and al-Ma'mun gave him the title of "Servant of the Commander of the Faithful" (mawlā amīr al-muʾminīn) and the Muslim name of Abu'l-Hasan Muhammad. Mazyar was also granted two towns in Tabaristan as his fief, and in 822/3 returned to Tabaristan with its Abbasid governor Musa ibn Hafs. Mazyar now began to take revenge against his enemies: Vinda-Umid and Shahriyar's son and successor, Shapur, were defeated and killed,[1] and Mazyar united the highlands under his own rule.[2] Mazyar now began constructing mosques in several towns, and successfully plundered the territories of another local dynasty, the Justanids.[2]

In 826/7, Musa ibn Hafs died and was succeeded by his son Muhammad ibn Musa as the governor of Tabaristan. Mazyar continued to expand his influence, but his policies were regarded by the Muslims of Tabaristan as oppressive. The Muslims of Tabaristan and the Bavandid prince Qarin I now began complaining to al-Ma'mun about Mazyar's behavior, but did not manage to turn al-Ma'mun against Mazyar. After al-Ma'mun became involved in a war against the Byzantine Empire, Mazyar used the opportunity to imprison Muhammad ibn Musa on the charge of being secretly involved with the Alids. Al-Ma'mun soon acknowledged Mazyar's rule over Tabaristan and its surrounding regions.[2] When al-Ma'mun died in 833, he was succeeded by his half-brother al-Mu'tasim, who also acknowledged Mazyar as the ruler of Tabaristan.

However, when the Tahirid ruler Abdallah ibn Tahir demanded the payment of the land tax (kharaj)) from Mazyar, the latter refused. Abdallah, claiming Tabaristan as his own fief, then demanded that Mazyar should release Muhammad ibn Musa. Mazyar, however, once again refused to obey Abdallah, and the latter went before al-Mu'tasim to accuse Mazyar of infidelity and tyranny.


Feeling threatened, Mazyar rebelled against the Abbasid Caliphate, an act which was widely supported by the native Zoroastrians, who began plundering the Muslim villages[3] and the Abbasid-controlled border regions. Mazyar tried to secure the loyalty of the noblemen of Tabaristan and imprisoned anyone he did not trust. According to the medieval historian Ibn Isfandiyar in his Tarikh-e-Tabaristan, Mazyar is said to have proclaimed:

Afshin, the son of Kavus, Babak Khorramdin, and I had made an oath and allegiance that we take the country back from the Arabs and transfer the government and the country back to the family of Kasraviyan.[4]

Abdallah and al-Mu'tasim sent five armies that entered Tabaristan from all sides. Mazyar named his brother Quhyar as the defender of the Qarinvand mountains, and the Bavandid Qarin I as the defender of eastern Tabaristan. However, Tabaristan fell quickly to the Abbasid invasion: several cities were taken by surprise, while Qarin I betrayed Mazyar and agreed to aid the Abbasids in exchange for being restored as the ruler of his family's domains. The people of Sari revolted against Mazyar, and Mazyar was betrayed by his brother Quhyar, who captured him and surrendered him to al-Mu'tasim.[2]

Mazyar was brought to Samarra, where he was executed. His body later was gibbeted along with the body of Babak Khorramdin. Mazyar's brother Quhyar was shortly after killed by his own Dailamite soldiers because of his betrayal of Mazyar. This marked the end of the Qarivand dynasty. This left the Tahirids as the rulers of Tabaristan, and Qarin I was restored as the ruler of the Bavand dynasty as a Tahirid vassal.[1][5]


  1. 1 2 Madelung 1984, pp. 747–753.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Madelung 1975, pp. 204–205.
  3. Mottahedeh 1975, p. 76.
  4. Said Nafisi, Babak Khorramdin Delawar-e-Azerbaijan (Babak Khorramdin, the brave heat of Azerbaijan), Tabesh Publishers, Tehran 1955, pg 57, actual quote from Ibn Esfandiyar من (مازیار) و افشين خيدر بن کاوس و بابک هر سه از دير باز عهد و بيعت کرده ايم و قرار داده بر آن که دولت از عرب بازستانيم و ملک و جهانداري با خاندان کسرويان نقل کنيم»
  5. Madelung 1975, pp. 205–206.


Iranian royalty
Preceded by
Qarin ibn Vindadhhurmuzd
as Ispahbadh of Lafur
Ispahbadh of the Qarivand dynasty
Succeeded by
Shahriyar I
as Ispahbadh of Lafur
Preceded by
Ispahbadh of Tabaristan
Succeeded by
Quhyar and Qarin I
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